Welcome to another season of Melbourne City football, except this season we have a realistic chance of adding some much needed silverware to a trophy cabinet that resembles my food pantry when I was pimply faced and just moved out of home minus the barbeque shapes.
The start of the season is a joyous occasion for fans of all 10 teams thinking their team can improve and make a sneaky run at the title after 27 weeks of gruelling summer football. About a month in I normally grow tired of the way we are playing football, my hairline grows higher that a Kisnorbo defensive line as his offside trap once again fails and before you know it City are trailing 1-0 in the 14th minute after dominating possession.
Well I’m convinced this season will be different, City are finally the contenders I know they can be and we even have the chance to stand alongside Melbourne Victory in not one but two finals this season. This prediction does come with a stern warning though people “hope is a dangerous thing”. With expectations higher that they have ever been at City HQ the pressure will build on the players, and coaching staff.
City fans must realise the start of the season may not be kind to us with a glut of key injuries to start the season and facing both Grand Finalists away is an extremely tough ask. If we start the season with two losses don’t jump off the City bandwagon, be prepared to stick fat with the team this season, we are building something that has the potential to justly reward our faith over the past five seasons.
So just like last season we travel to Allianz Stadium and face the other sky blue team in Sydney FC. Whilst Sydney have lost some high calibre players (Carle, Janko, Ibini and Antonis) expect them to be at the point end of the table at the end of the season. Graham Arnold knows this league back to front and will be striving to right the wrongs of last year’s disappointing Grand Final performance. Andrew Hoole has looked dangerous in the preseason and we cannot expect Shane Smeltz to be as quiet as he was last season. Any team travelling to Sydney this season will do well to bring home any points, let alone pinch a win in the harbour city.
There is a great feeling around the club at the moment and you were able to feel that resinate thru AAMI Park when we demolished Wellington 5-1 in the FFA Cup. Supporters were talking about City very differently that the previous season, and whilst the wounds of the Heart takeover were still very fresh last campaign you can feel the City Football Group broom has now swept thru the club and improved the professionalism both on and off the field.
Whilst the feeling surrounding the club has changed significantly some things never change. Once again we commence a campaign with our medical staff working overtime and key players missing the opener. Likely starters Ivan Franjic (quad), Corey Gameiro (knee) and Harry Novillo (hamstring) will all miss the game through injury whilst Aaron Hughes and possibly Aaron Mooy missing via international duties. Thanks to the brains trust of the FFA and Fox Sports for once again ignoring the FIFA scheduled international weekend.
Whilst the depth of our squad will be tested early Van’t Schip has an important decision to make when choosing who will wear the gloves on Saturday night. Does he go for his big international signing Thomas Sorensen or does he stick with one of the surprise packets from last season Tando Velaphi. Personally I think Sorensen should start and I think Van’t Schip will lean this way, you don’t bring in an experienced international player on a visa spot to waste away on the bench.
Speaking of international visa players what about international marquee Robi Koren? With the hot form of Aaron Mooy and the signings of Sorensen, Franjic and Zullo in the off season the Slovenian has barely been spoken about this season, hardly a good sign for any marquee player, let alone a club with access to the deepest pockets in football. Well thankfully for Koren, Melbourne is thousands of miles from Dubai, Manchester and New York so his poor form was hardly an issue. Expect Koren to be much better this year and his contribution far more significant. Whilst I predicted him to be ‘Thomas Broich’ like last season I don’t think he is capable of those heights but he could play a vital role in City this season.
It could be a shaky start to the season, but I am very hopeful of a great year for Melbourne City.
- Thomas SORENSEN, 4. Connor Chapman, 6. Eric Paartalu, 8. Aaron Mooy (Via Jordan) 10. Robert Koren, 11. Michael Zullo, 16. Jason Trifiro, 17. Wade Dekker, 18. Paulo Retre, 20. Tando Velaphi, 22. Jack Clisby, 23. Bruno Fornaroli, 24. Partick Kisnorbo, 25. Jacob Melling, 27. Callum Richardson, 28. Steve Kuzmanovski, 29. Stefan Zinni, 30. Hernan Espindola.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Whilst the form of Bruno Fornaroli has been great in the preseason he will start to earn his money now the season has commenced. In the FFA Cup game he didn’t touch the ball for the first 15 minutes and will be expected to carry the bulk of the City attack against Sydney, especially with Mooy a doubtful starter. For me the jury is still out on the Uruguayan, I’m not convinced he’s the answer we need in front of goal and this could be significant in our title hopes.
Hopefully I’m wrong (I am most of the time anyway) and ‘El Tuna’ is a success and banging goals in from everywhere. Since I’m such a cynic of the signing and really haven’t given our new striker a chance I’ll happily eat a John West tuna can (95g) any time Fornaroli scores this A-League season. I can’t be fairer than that.
THE WHEELS ON THE BUS
A quick shout out to the hard working people behind the ‘Melb City Travelling Fans’ who have organised a bus for the first round of the season. This is a great initiative by the fans and I hope we see more of it in the future. Fans are what make a club great and these fans have gone above and beyond to ensure our club gets great support from the first whistle this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Played – 15 Sydney – 4 City – 5 Draws – 6
At Allianz Stadium
Played – 7 Sydney – 2 City – 3 Draws – 2
2010/11 – Lost to Central Coast 1-0 (Home)
2011/12 – Lost to Newcastle Jets 3-2 (Away)
2012/13 – Defeated Melbourne Victory 1-0 (Away)
2013/14 – Drew with Melbourne Victory 0-0 (Away)
2014/15 – Drew with Sydney FC 1-1 (Away)
Only Patrick Kisnorbo, Eric Paartalu and Aaron Mooy remain at the club from the starting XI that played Sydney FC on the opening weekend last season.
Sydney FC 2-1
Enjoy the opening round of the season, C’mon City.Google+